The Utah Division of Wildlife Board has approved some minor updates to the Utah Black Bear Management Plan. The current black bear management plan was approved in 2019. However, in 2020 Utah made some legislative changes regarding wildlife. A new law passed in 2020 mandates that the DWR director must take immediate action if biologists determine that black bears are preventing mule deer populations from reaching management objectives. If Biologists make that determination, black bear management plans must be implemented. As a result, the Wildlife Board approved a new plan that complies with the new law.
Managing Predators for Mule Deer
In several areas, mule deer populations have been on the decline. This is typically caused by drought or extreme winter. However, in certain regions, large predator densities are also limiting the growth of the mule deer population. In several of these areas, UDFG has begun monitoring mule deer with GPS collars. These collars help the Division track the cause of death in mule deer. Black Bear Management plans can be implemented or changed if it is determined that they are preventing the growth of mule deer. However, several other conditions must be met for the plan to be implemented.
“These changes to the plan will align it with the legislative requirements, to act when predators are impacting mule deer populations and preventing them from reaching management objectives. The changes will also allow us to maintain healthy bear populations in areas where we are not seeing negative impacts.” – DWR Game Mammals Coordinator Darren DeBloois
In 2020, Utah issued a total of 1,190 black bear permits. Hunters harvested 443 bears during this year’s hunt. Bear depredations, where bears kill livestock or damage agriculture, were up again in 2020. However, the overall cost of the damages decreased for the third year in a row.
Going forward bear hunters in Utah may see more permits issued as apart of these new rules regarding the black bear management plan.
What are your thoughts on the changes to Utah’s Black Bear Management Plan? Have you been hunting black bears? Let us know in the comments!